First days of voting in Oregon brings large numbers

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Ballots for the 2020 election began to be mailed to Oregonians last Wednesday, and so far more than 88,000 people have casted their vote, following suit with the nationwide early voting trends.

By comparison, at this time during the 2016 presidential election, 12,591 ballots were returned in Oregon. In 2012 it was less than 10,000.

The Elections Division of the Oregon Secretary of State released the unofficial ballot returns count Monday. So far the division has recorded 88,406 ballots returned.

Nearly 3 million people are registered to vote in Oregon, a 15% increase from the 2016 election. A portion of the influx of registered voters in the state can be attributed to Oregon’s Motor Voter Act in 2016, which made voter registration automatic when Oregonians obtain or renew their driver’s licenses.

So far, 3% of registered voters in Oregon have returned their ballots, according to the elections division. During the last two presidential elections, between 80% and 82% of registered voters in Oregon have returned their ballots.

To no surprise, the county with the most ballots returned thus far is Multnomah County — Oregon's most populous county. Nearly 60,000 ballots have been returned, which make up 10.5% of the county's registered voters. At this time in 2016, the county had received 21,452 ballots.

The avalanche of returned the ballots within the first days of voting has been witnessed across the country.

As of Friday, more than 22 million Americans had already cast ballots in the 2020 election, a record-shattering number of early votes.

Americans’ rush to vote is leading election experts to predict that a record 150 million votes may be cast and turnout rates could be higher than in any presidential election since 1908.

In Oregon, ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 3. Oregonians should expect to receive their ballots two to three weeks before the elections. Any registered voter who does not receive their ballot by Oct. 21 should contact their local election office.


Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.